Opening Statements Begin in Miami Rape and Murder Trial

Man charged in brutal kidnap, rape and murder of teen girl

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    Joel G. Lebron, 33, is charged with first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, robbery and kidnapping in the shocking April 2002 crime. Attack survivor Nelson Portobanco testified as Lebron's trial began Wednesday, while prosecutor Laura Adams and defense attorney Jeff Fink made their opening statements. (Published Wednesday, Sep 12, 2012)

    Opening statements began Wednesday in the trial of a man accused of the brutal rape and murder of a Miami teen and attempted murder of her boyfriend over a decade ago.

    Joel G. Lebron, 33, is charged with first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, robbery and kidnapping in the shocking April 2002 crime.

    Police said Lebron and four other Orlando men kidnapped 18-year-old Ana Maria Angel and her boyfriend, Nelson Portobanco, while the couple was taking an evening stroll on South Beach.

    Portobanco said on the stand that both he and Angel were terrified during the ordeal.

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    The couple, who both attended South Miami Senior High, was thrown into a truck where the suspects robbed them and then took turns raping Angel as they drove north on I-95, according to police. Portobanco said he could hear his girlfriend begging them to stop "loud and clear."

    "She was crying, asking them to stop," he said.

    At one point, the group pulled over and repeatedly stabbed Portobanco, slitting his throat and leaving him for dead on the side of the road, police said.

    Portobanco said that when they walked him down the embankment, he thought they were going to kill him.

    As they stabbed, punched and kicked him, Portobanco said, "I was lying in a fetal position, I decided to pretend I was dead."

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    The group then drove a few miles north into Boca Raton, where they again pulled over. Prosecutors say Lebron shot and killed Angel and her body was thrown into some bushes on the side of the highway. Her body was found a couple days later.

    "The evidence will not show you that Mr. Lebron had any idea what was going to happen in Miami, that he was not part of any conspiracy or plan," defense attorney Jeff Fink said in his opening statement Wednesday.

    He asked the jury "to listen carefully and keep an open mind."

    Prosecutor Laura Adams said Lebron's DNA matched the semen found in vaginal swabs taken from Angel's body, pointing at him in court.

    She described how Angel was killed.

    "Ana Maria heard the click, nothing happened. Did he stop at that point and say, what am I doing, what did she ever do to me? No, he didn't, you know what he did? Pulled the trigger a second time," Adams said.

    Angel pleaded for her life, but Lebron pulled the trigger again, that time successfully, putting a bullet in her brain, Adams said.

    Two suspects in the case have already been convicted of first-degree murder.

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